A Post I Never Wanted to Write

A Post I Never Wanted to Write

It's true. This isn't a post that I ever wanted to write or share but here I am doing exactly that. Even just starting to type this right now is difficult but I am going to keep typing because I need to just keep going.

Exactly eight years ago today my dad died of terminal cancer. He had a rare form of cancer called cholangiocarcinoma, bile duct cancer, which is a death sentence. There is no cure and the life expectancy doesn't go beyond five years. From the moment of hearing his diagnosis to hearing the words I had prepared myself to hear but never wanted that he had died, cancer became an unwanted part of my life.

While my father was still alive we found out that he had the BRCA2 gene mutation. BRCA1 and 2 gene carriers have an increased risk of getting specific cancers over their lifetimes. In women it means a higher likelihood of having breast and ovarian cancers. 

I had a 50% chance of inheriting the BRCA2 gene from my father. I put off taking the test until early this year. I prepared myself for the result I didn't want. And then I got the phone call that I didn't want telling me that I do have the BRCA2 gene. I didn't cry and still haven't but have very close many times. To be honest, I am still processing the results even though I have been launched into a course of mammograms, ultrasounds and even surgery.

Sarah Elder Chamanara - Fred Elder

With my dad on summer vacation in High River.

This June I underwent my first proactive surgery to remove my fallopian tubes. My ovaries will wait until after I turn 40 in a few years because my risk factor up until then is the same as someone without the gene until then and there is significant downside to removing them before then. Not to mention going into menopause at 37. I was able to manage running Madame Premier while recovering from surgery with the help of my husband who took two weeks off of work to parent our two sons who are now three and 17 months old. My next surgery will be in four to twelve months. I will be having a double mastectomy and reconstruction. The recovery and downtime following this surgery will be a lot more difficult. I have opted to have what is called TRAM Flap reconstruction which means muscle will be taken from my abdomen and used to reconstruct my breasts. Interestingly, I get to choose wether to keep my nipples which gets added to the list of conversations I never thought I would have in 2020 or ever.

Today is a day of remembrance for me. I think about my dad, the one that I had before cancer took over his body and brain and I think about the best moments we had together and how my name sounded when he said it. He would say, "I love you, Sar" and so I think about how I wish I could hear him say that to me again. That I wish he could meet his grandsons. That he would love them so very much. The joy of seeing him play with them was stolen from me and I am doing everything I can to make sure that I am not stolen by cancer from them as well. And because there is no good day to share this, I thought that today should be the day. Because at some point, I will have to pause Madame Premier for a few weeks in order to recover from surgery. 

2020 has been a really difficult year. Finding out I have BRCA2 on top of Covid-19 has been a lot. But just like I realized the eight years ago when my dad died is that the world keeps going. I have to keep moving with it. Not only for myself but for my children. And my husband. My family. And Madame Premier. 

I will let you know when I have a surgery date as it will impact the day-to-day operations of Madame Premier as this is a one-woman business. In the meantime, do your self-breast examinations. Get a mammogram if you are able to. Take care of yourselves because life really is short and we can't waste a minute of it. 



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